ANOTHER YEAR, another rainy season, another outbreak of flash flooding and another raft of lame excuses. When will there be less talk and more action? When will the flooding end?
This time around, Works Minister Rohan Sinanan has blamed an “unusually concentrated amount of rainfall.” He follows in the footsteps of former ministers who have looked to the heavens for succour. Former minister Colm Imbert once blamed flooding on rainfall he deemed “unusual, unprecedented … bizarre.”
The never-ending flood story has plagued successive governments. Under the PP government, Jack Warner promised solutions.
“We are purchasing two pumps, so hopefully two pumps will help as well,” Warner said. His successor, Dr Suruj Rambachan, blamed citizens, saying they had clogged waterways with their poor waste-disposal practices. This may well be true, but it could never be the full picture.
Even Sinanan must know that the belated “testing” of a new pump system – which he announced on Monday, a full month into the rainy season – must look like a case of crying over spilled milk. And if indeed the amount of rain was unusual, why should four new pumps make things better? We need a system that works.
The truth is, rain doesn’t fall up. The TT Meteorological Office has said the weather is following regular patterns. Instead of focusing on presenting a rain-o-rama of excuses, we should be taking decisive action to address matters that should have been addressed months, years ago.
What has happened to the Dr Emru Millette drainage study, completed since the early 1980s and later revived? What of proposals from foreign firm Genivar? What of the work of experts from the Netherlands under former PoS mayor Louis Lee Sing?
The last major nationwide flood-control project was put into effect in 1987, under NAR works and housing minister John Humphrey. But while there was some effect, the project was criticised for breaches. Warner introduced retention ponds and other measures for South Quay. But the evidence today suggests whatever work has been done in the past was not enduring. It’s all been swept away like the wrathful waters that sent Noah’s Ark afloat.
But is there a rainbow for commuters at the end of this journey?
Action beats old talk every time. With regard to Port of Spain, the PNM must take full advantage of the fact that it now has power at both the government and the city corporation levels to implement enduring solutions. Otherwise, we might one day end up like the characters in the post-apocalyptic science fiction film Waterworld – permanently wading to work.